Updated: Jun 19, 2021
Opening Exercises: Welcome to Midway School
With our in-person field trips put on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we invited dear Miss Bennett to step forward in time to share a sampler of lessons from our Midway Schoolhouse program.
These lessons are useful to both teachers and at-home learners who yearn for the Pioneer School Experience.
Quick Story of the Schoolhouse
At one time, the Peninsula had some 15 one-room schoolhouses. The last remaining one-room schoolhouse is Midway, now housed at the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, Washington. The schoolhouse was built in 1893 and began welcoming students as soon as it was finished. After World War II, the schoolhouse closed as students were sent to new schools across the Peninsula.
The schoolhouse sat empty for many years until being nominated to the National Register in 1987. It was later donated to the Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society and moved to the new museum site in 2009. Thanks to the hard work of the Gig Harbor Rotary Club, the schoolhouse was lovingly restored to once again welcome school students. Since being moved to the museum campus, the schoolhouse has served more than 10,000 students.
Going to School at the Turn of the Century
Schools on the frontier were much different than schools today. One major difference was that students of all ages and grades were all taught together in one room. The only heat source was a big wood-burning stove that was often lit by one of the older students in the early morning before other students arrived.
Lessons were very different, too. From penmanship to reading, history, and "sums," one teacher taught it all. And there's no better person to explain all the proper practices students at the schoolhouse had to abide by than Miss Bennett. So, let's get started.
Do you hear the bell ringing?
You can join these students for a day in the schoolhouse by clicking the video below. Are your fingernails clean? Haven you taken off your hat? If not, Miss Bennett will set you right.
"Virtual Schoolhouse, Lesson 1" video by Vester Media for the Harbor History Museum.
The "Virtual Schoolhouse" series was funded by a CARES Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Thanks to Leann O'Neill for bringing Miss Bennett to life.